Hertford 1s heavily beaten by league leaders WGC
By Will Ray
Hertford travelled to top of the table Welwyn Garden City knowing that a win would guarantee themselves a spot in the post season play off match. On a hot, sunny day Welwyn won the toss and elected to bat first.
Hertford were boosted by the return to bowling fitness of James Leather, and he started impressively, troubling the Welwyn batmsan with some tight bowling. At the other end Welwyn looked to take advantage of the fielding restrictions, and Adil Arif in particular, punished anything pitched up by Slater to get off to a quick start. Hertford soon turned to spin, and with pace of the ball scoring was not quite so easy. This led to frustration for opener Champion who advanced at Folland only to miss the ball and see himself bowled for a useful 44, leaving Welwyn 98-1.
Adil Arif continued to score fluently and even with pace off the ball, Hertford were unable to slow his advance towards his century. Hertford were able to maintain some control, with Blacktopp unable to find the same fluency. He was tamely caught at cover off the bowling of Golder for just 17. Arif was joined by former England international Owais Shah and passed his hundred shortly after. Shah very quickly established himself at the crease and with Arif tiring, began to dominate the partnership. Arif fell to Golder, well caught on the deep square leg boundary for an outstanding, run-a-ball 128. This did not slow Shah who upped to tempo as Welwyn entered the final 10 overs of their innings, passing his 50.
James Leather returned impressively to pick up 3 wickets in his final 2 overs. At the other end Shah was in punishing form and ended just shy of his own century as the innings wrapped up with his contribution of 96*, helping Welwyn set 317-6.
This was going to be a tough chase for Hertford and when 3 early wickets fell, reducing them to 15-3, their hopes of getting close were in tatters. Only Ian Harris really managed to get himself in. 3 calamitous run-outs ripped apart Hertford's middle order and completely ended any dreams of chasing the target set and consigned Hertford to a crushing defeat and confirmed Welwyn as the league champions. This defeat, coupled with Luton's win over Letchworth mean that Hertford go into the final regular season match with everything to play for in the fight for their survival.
By Richard Leather